My dad recently visited from the UK, and whilst I love him dearly as he is genuinely one of life’s really good humans, I always cringe when he tells stories of me when I was young. I don’t know if anyone else feels the same when their parents remind them of how they were decades ago. For me when I was very young, I was shy. I wouldn’t speak to adults and found it difficult to project confidence in groups.
Since then I have worked hard to develop confidence and now I no longer resemble the shy young girl my father takes pride in reminding me about. I do remember however making a conscious choice that I had to take a deep breath, speak up and push through my shyness. Perhaps that’s why I am now an executive coach – helping others push through what for them holds them back.
This blog is about pushing through and gaining confidence, it is written primarily for women, however, it will equally apply to men – young or old who may suffer from a lack of confidence, which could be inhibiting productivity or limiting career progression.
To follow are some suggestions to consider which I hope are of assistance in boosting your confidence.
- Focus on your strengths & own your success. Focus on what you are good at and what you have achieved. Write down all the projects and initiatives you have delivered on. Read this list and own it. We all have areas we need to develop, however focusing on what you do well and stepping up and going for it, will build your confidence. Some people, generally more women leaders, shy away from speaking up about their accomplishments for fear of being boastful or conceited. Sometimes women shrink themselves to seem non-intimidating. Shrinking does nothing but delay our voice from being heard and taken seriously. So feel the fear and do it anyway - if you need a good book on the topic, Susan Jeffers has written a great book on this subject.
- Focus on adding value – Think about what you need to do in your role to be successful and though it sounds simplistic – just do that! Often this may mean focusing on what generates revenue, on where you can save money, increase efficiency or develop new products etc. Many of us can be busy with being busy and therefore not direct our attention to what makes us successful in the role. Focus on the future, add value and speak positively about what you are doing.
- Focus on you and not others – Be clear about your values, and be true to yourself. Knowing you can’t please everyone and that not everyone is going to get along with you, are two important things to accept. Believe in yourself and your worth; and don’t worry about what others might think or say if they are being derisory. As long as you are being true to yourself and your goals, other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- Share your voice – Especially if you are a woman who is sitting at the decision-making table (or anyone in important meetings in fact), speak up and just know your perspective is important. Include others and be collaborative.
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” — Peter T. Mcintyre
- Build alliances with decision-makers –Build healthy relationships with advocates, create a strong personal brand, establish guidelines before each project, position yourself as an expert in your field, and communicate with confidence.
- Ask for money – Know your worth and channel your inner Tom Cruise to confidently show you the money. This may not just be salary, it may be anything to do with money – not charging enough, being afraid to ask, under pricing, not asking for your organisation to pay for training, and giving away services for free. My advice is to learn to master sales and get confident in your skills so you price properly, get the salary & development you deserve and build respect.
- Manage your negative thoughts – One of the biggest challenges my clients face is they allow for the negative thoughts that arise in their mind to take control of their life. My advice is to take control of your thoughts by becoming consciously aware of them and to either replace them with more positive and encouraging thoughts, or to accept them and decide to move forward despite them.
Confidence is something you can build. Like a muscle, the more you put it under stress in different ways over time, the stronger it becomes. When I reflect back on my career, I realise that all of the situations I put myself in and all of the things I was nervous about but said ‘yes’ to, helped build my confidence and resilience.
I am interested to hear from others what helped you to build your confidence.
“Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.” – Venus Williams
June Parker is an Executive and Career Coach and Director at Selection Partners. June coaches both women and men in mid to executive management positions, develop their leadership skills and position themselves to obtain their next career promotion. June is ICF and CDAA accredited.
If we can be of any assistance to anyone please feel free and reach out. June@selectionpartners.com.au